Ann Spangler

Ann Spangler is an award-winning writer and speaker.

If I Were a Squirrel

blurred city street lights on a dark night

Squirrels are famously persistent, a trait that often gets them what they want but sometimes gets them killed. They get into trouble when they persist in a strategy that simply doesn’t work. Ever notice how many roadkill victims are squirrels? Perhaps that’s because they have only one strategy for what to do when they are trying to cross the road and encounter oncoming traffic—scurry back to the side of the road they started from.

We look at the squirrel and scoff, wondering why they don’t adopt a more flexible strategy for evading oncoming traffic. As human beings, we realize that we have the cognitive ability to change course as needed. But if this is so, why do we so often return to failed strategies for coping with stress, trying the same unsuccessful solutions over and over with little effect?

Let me give you an example. Say you work with someone who annoys you. Despite your prayers for patience and for her to change, her annoying habits persist. So you redouble your prayers. While prayer is always a great strategy, you may need to add something to it—like taking action. It might, for example, be advisable to speak kindly but directly with your coworker about whatever is causing the difficulty. You might say something like this:

“When you interrupt me, it makes me feel as though what I have to say is unimportant.”

The conversation may be uncomfortable, but it’s likely to yield better results than a strategy that encourages passivity and ends in pique.

Prayer is always good. But prayer that is never accompanied by action may simply be a passive and ineffective way of dealing with problems that are stealing your peace. Ask God today for wisdom in changing your strategies for dealing with stress.


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